“Segregation’s New Geography” by Karen Beck Pooley

This piece is up on Southern Spaces, a reviewed electronic journal published by Emory University. Pooley explores the overlaid geographies of housing equity wealth, school achievement, and racial segregation in metro Atlanta. In light of the recent publicity around the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal, it’s important to recognize that the vast majority of African American students in the region live outside of central Atlanta, and the binary between city and suburb no longer effectively describes racial segregation patterns that are considerably more complex.

The Atlanta region provides an important and instructive study of recent national trends. The migration of black Americans back to regions of the South, the suburbanization of blacks and the exurbanizing of whites, the persistent residential segregation, and the increasing segregation in schools, have all played out with particular force in Atlanta. Metro Atlanta’s segregated neighborhoods and schools, which now extend well into suburbia, are not only underserving the current generation of minority homeowners and students, but stand to undercut the life chances of future generations of minority residents as well. As it booms and continues to sprawl, metro Atlanta shows how segregation puts limits on minority homeowners’ ability to build wealth, minority students’ ability to excel in school, and low-income families’ ability to achieve upward mobility.

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